October 1, 2005

Round about this part of the year, roughly three years ago, Fox began airing a show called Firefly. The Joss Whedon show was a beautiful genre buster, a Western-style space opera. While the show held some similarities to the anime Cowboy Bebop, the reality it portrayed was firmly rooted in the people and not the setting. The crew of the Firefly-class cargo ship Serenity was a family, first and foremost. Their stories were exciting, funny, and most seriously affecting. It was a good ship. A good show.

Like every good story, though, there was a villain on the horizon. The horizon in this case was hiding the vast maw of the unwashed viewing public. The low opinion the vast majority of Americans have for thoughtful discourse and well-drawn characterizations swallowed the good ship Serenity as surely as a hole in space. A lot of people blame Fox’s inept handling of the show, bad advertising, and inconstant scheduling. It may have helped, but without the maw it would have been a much slower death. People. Just. Don’t. Care.

The next twist in the tale has been told over the last year or so, as Whedon transformed ideas and concepts for some unknown number of show episodes into a coherent story that could be told on the big screen. Today, I had the chance to see the result.

The actors and actresses played the roles with a passion I don’t see very often anymore in cinema, the story answered a thousand questions about the backstory of some of the characters, and the audio/video environment of the filmscape was as beautiful as one could hope. The story, especially, grabbed me pretty hard and shook me. Serenity hurt. Whedon is a real storyteller, and he doesn’t pull punches.

I’m not sure that there’s anything that I can say about the backstory of the movie that wouldn’t be a giant spoiler for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet. If you’ve seen the show, you desperately need to see the film. I still haven’t fully absorbed the thing yet, but it’s easily the best sci-fi film I’ve seen in a very long time.

Sadder than my state of mind after the film is the part of me that wonders how many seasons of Firefly we would have watched through in order to see all the story that I got to see today. Season after season of reveals, time with the characters getting to know them better … getting to find out what the gorram hell was with the blue-handed guys … I care. I may be a cynical old coot now, but I care.

Serenity is likely to be the final chapter in the tale of the crew of this particular ship. It hurts that, even if there is another chapter it won’t involve some of the crew. It hurts when something you love is cast aside because it’s hard to come to terms with it. It hurts that I’ll never have the chance to see new stories in the ‘Verse.

It hurts, but they can’t take the sky from me

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